ACTRA, Directors Guild of Canada launch HAVEN, a harassment helpline

Harvey Weinstein, centre, leaves New York Supreme Court with his attorney Benjamin Brafman, left, in New York on Dec. 20, 2018. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan/File

Almost two years after the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations rocked Hollywood (and Hollywood North), Canada’s actors’ union, ACTRA, has launched HAVEN, a bilingual critical-incident reporting hotline, in conjunction with the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC).

The HAVEN (Harassment and Violence Emergency Network) helpline will offer 24-7 support from Morneau Shepell, a provider of assistance programs in Canada. The helpline will be available for ACTRA and DGC members to report any harassment incident related to the workplace and set and will provide additional resources, such as confidential counselling services and total well-being support.

(As of this writing, Weinstein has not been found guilty of any crime and has vehemently denied any sexual assault or harassment allegation levelled against him.)

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DGC and ACTRA members can access these services by phone, web chat and online through Morneau Shepell’s LifeWorks app. For calls regarding harassment or violence, the caller will always have the option to speak with a counsellor. The HAVEN helpline and associated counselling services are part of the commitment by ACTRA and the DGC to a trauma-informed approach to responding to harassment in the workplace.

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“Over the past 18 months, it has become clear a cultural shift within our industry is needed to prevent and reduce harassment. ACTRA has remained dedicated in our commitment to address this issue,” said ACTRA national president David Sparrow. “We hope the launch of the HAVEN helpline will ensure our members have access to available support resources 24-7 if they experience or witness an incident of harassment in the workplace.”

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“We owe it to the courageous individuals who’ve exposed the truth about harassment and misconduct in our industry to have their backs. These resources are a major step forward helping us do just that,” DGC president Tim Southam said.

Launching the HAVEN helpline is the latest step taken by the DGC and ACTRA. The organizations brought into effect the Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct in March 2018. The creation of reporting mechanisms and support services are two of the steps outlined in the code, to which both organizations committed to address harassment within the film and TV industry.

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South of the border, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has drawn up a similar code of conduct. Gabrielle Carteris, president of ACTRA’s American equivalent, SAG-AFTRA, has been organizing further initiatives in the U.S. since 2017.

Speaking to Global News when the Weinstein accusations were fresh, Theresa Tova, ACTRA Toronto president and national treasurer of the organization, said she is very confident that the measures will help provide safety and security for members.

“Serial predators. Recidivists. There are too many enablers, an uneven power dynamic,” Tova lists among the existing problems facing women in the industry and in everyday life. “Women have had to put up with it for so long, we don’t even believe we have a voice. It goes back to seeing the women who’ve tried be raped through the legal system. We need to improve our disciplines here and what we do to protect these women.”

The new helpline will be jointly funded by ACTRA and the DGC with additional financial support from AFBS and Telefilm Canada.


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